The pressure is on to deliver more value with less resource. To give customers the right message at the right moment. To maximise every interaction. To stay ahead of your competitors.

Constructing a really strong, customer-focused strategic value proposition will clarify your customer messaging. It will give clear direction to your teams. It will capitalise on your competitive edge.

A Strategic Value Proposition is the Answer.

In this post, we break down why we believe in the strategic value proposition, what it is and how you can construct one for yourself.

Wild Goals, Wise Words and Winning Outcomes

Like all great leaders you’ve got your eye on the prize. You know what your wildly important goal is and you’re going to make it a reality. Carving out a really great Value Proposition is a critical stage in developing a strategy to reach that wild goal. It’s the glue that binds together your offer with your customers. The words you choose are crucial. If your strategic value proposition isn’t right it jeopardises all your marketing and sales efforts. It jeopardises comms. It jeopardises lead gen. It jeopardises the bottom line. To get your winning outcomes you need a really great value proposition.

You’re probably thinking about how you’ve already got a value proposition and that it’s worked for years. Well, let me ask you this, is it great? And I mean really great? Does it reach your customers where they are? Is it helping you realise your wild goal? Does it deliver Wild outcomes? Is it current? Future-proof? Compelling?

If you’ve already cracked your Value Prop then you don’t need this blog post. How about this instead: take a deeper look at leading a strategy first brand development programme.

If you answered no, then we’ve got you. Let’s move onto defining exactly what a value proposition is.

What is a Value Proposition?

We wanted to know the answer. So, we whacked it into Google. Surprise, surprise, 147 million answers. ‘OK Google, that’s too much’. We haven’t got time for that. Let’s keep it simple:

A value proposition is the statement of the key things (for want of a better word) that your product or service gives to your customers, that they need or want.

It’s about pinpointing what your product or service does for your customers to address what they are struggling with, trying to achieve and need to do. As Elon Musk once said, ‘Focus on signal over noise. Don’t waste time on stuff that doesn’t actually make things better.’ The focus is making things better for your customers, solving their problems, adding real value.

We are talking about customer-perceived value here not cheaper-by-the-dozen value. That is, a perception that the benefits you offer are of value, when evaluated against your cost and the similar offers of others. Your value proposition reflects this.

Words are important. Technical jargon is a waste of space. Corporate adages are null and void. Wave bye-bye to the no-brainer, win-wins that streamline, the results driven benchmark. (laughter and applause) Get ready to use crystal clear, simple words to explain what you do, how you do it and who you do it for. No embellishing. No drivel.

We recently rewrote our own value proposition. Perfectly Picked had shifted focus, our wild goal had changed. We needed a value proposition that fitted our new focus and targeted the customer personas that we wanted to attract. It was a brutal process that forced us to critically analyse ourselves but it was worth it. Creating a succinct, powerful value proposition gave us the backbone for our new brand. Find out more here - Defining The Perfectly Picked value proposition.

Now, let’s get into the value prop process.

Defining and Understanding your Buyer

Defining your target market and writing buyer personas comes before value proposition development. You need to know, and we mean really know, who you are trying to sell to. Who are they? Where do they live? What’s their salary? What’s their story? Their Age? Job title? And so, on and so forth, until you can literally say that Steve is the type of person who would buy what you’re selling. Steve is one of our target personas at Perfectly Picked. We like to use real life examples round here.

Struggling to build personas? We’ll admit that this can feel like guesswork. There are things you can do to tap your current customers for information. We love a structured, qualitative customer feedback chat. It helps us understand what our favourite customers jobs, goals, pains are and what their perceived added value is. It’s important you’re choosey about who you interview, pick the customers that fit with who you want to target. Bonus points, this is a great chance to catch up with your much loved, long-term clients.

Getting your Team Fired up

Building a meaningful value proposition is a team effort. It cannot be done alone. It requires focus, attention, and openness. A group of six key players from marketing, sales and customer experience is ideal. You don’t want too many voices all shouting the same things. But, you do need a cross section of these departments to get the full picture.

Now you’ve got your personas scoped and your team ready it’s time to crack on with the best bit.

Workshopping your Value Proposition

We absolutely love the Strategyzer Value Proposition Canvas. Not just because we like to say the word ‘Strategyzer’ but also because it’s simple, yet clever. It delivers on its own value proposition by helping you write yours. Clever. Originally, it was created as an aid to help innovators develop their products but it’s applicable to every value proposition development scenario under the sun.

We use the Value Proposition Canvas to solve problems in many situations. Sometimes it’s launching in a new channel, other times its supporting continued growth. Sometimes it’s a new product in a new market. Other times it’s a well-established product that needs a new lease of life. The thing we’ve found consistent is the result. Clear-cut messaging about your product or service that describes your value to your target customers in words they understand.

We’ve found a two-hour workshop is the key to cracking the Value Proposition Canvas. Set this time aside. The idea is that this workshop is highly focused on the customers that you target and the services, products or company that you are specifically concerned with.

The workshop works really well in person when you’ve got a large whiteboard to draw the canvas and literally stick up post its as you go. That said, we’ve run loads of these sessions remotely and the beauty of doing it online is everything is captured there and then, ready to use in the future. If you need help reach out to us here, we can help facilitate the workshop and guide you through the process.

The Value Proposition Canvas by Strategyzer

Value Proposition Canvas is a tool created by Strategyzer (Strategyzer.com and Strategyzer AG)

The workshop runs like this:

  • Scope out your customer's jobs – What do they do? What is their responsibility to do?
  • Note down their pains – Why can’t they get all the things done?
  • Scribble down their gains – What are the outcomes they need or desire to achieve?
  • Discuss and decide what you offer that relieves these pains. Write them down.
  • Work out what your gain creators are – What are your solutions to the gains your customer wants?
  • Finally, note down your products and services.

Pulling it all Together

After the workshop, you can begin to work through your findings and start to write out your value proposition. There are loads of ways to lay your value proposition on paper, we like the following:

  • What your product or service is
  • Who it’s for
  • What your customer wants or needs to do
  • What problem you solve for your customer
  • What pain you relieve for your customer
  • What this is ‘unlike’, noting a competing value proposition (this is optional)

Give yourself a few options and iterate, iterate, iterate. Remember to use simple, clear language. Get your team back together and look at the options. Choose the best one, tweak it if needed. Keep amending and updating until you are confident it does the trick.

The best thing about your Value Proposition is that it can be used to feed all your brand messaging. It brings focus to your words and clarity to your cause.

To read more about how you can conjure resonance through words, read our post 'The Importance of Great Messaging'.

Final Thoughts

Once you are happy with your value proposition you can use for so many things. The beauty is in its multiplicity. Use it internally to train your sales teams. Use it externally to hit your customers with the truth. Use it to build out all your messaging. Use it to tweak existing assets to give them new life. Get it painted on the wall of the office. You can have a value proposition for your company, and you can have one for your individual products or services too.

What’s really important is that your value proposition has an impact. It is referred to. It is known by your teams. Your value proposition is what differentiates you from your competitors. It’s an outward looking statement and it is totally customer appropriate. Don’t skimp on the sharing.


References ––

*Dun & Bradstreet, 2020 –– Dun & Bradstreet Survey Finds COVID-19 is Transforming Marketing Strategies and Reducing Budgets –– Published 24/06/2020 –– https://www.dnb.co.uk/perspectives/newsroom/survey-finds-covid-transforms-marketing-strategies-and-reduces-budgets.html

*Value Proposition Canvas is a tool created by Strategyzer (Strategyzer.com and Strategyzer AG)